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By 2040, all cars sold in B.C. will be clean energy vehicles, the province pledged today.
Premier John Horgan announced a clean energy vehicle mandate, which will begin by requiring 10 per cent of all vehicles sold in the province by 2025 to be clean energy vehicles, 30 per cent by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2040.
"There's nothing more important than taking care of the place we call home," Horgan said. "As a province, we need to work together to put B.C. on a path that powers our future with clean, renewable energy and reduces air pollution."
He linked the policy to climate change, saying, “After two consecutive fire seasons that set records in terms of hectares burned, individuals affected, buildings destroyed, it’s clear that we are certainly not immune to changes in our climate.”
This is the first announcement as part of an upcoming economic plan focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province by 40 per cent by 2030, and 60 per cent by 2040 and 80 per cent by 2050, Horgan said.
Meeting those targets was always going to be a challenge, but with the recently announced approval of an LNG plant in Kitimat, which will add significant emissions into our atmosphere, it's going to require even more drastic change.
About 14 per cent of B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions come from personal transportation, Clean Energy BC says.
“These targets will only be achieved if British Columbians buy into them,” Horgan said.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, Horgan's power-sharing partner, owns a Nissan Leaf.
"I think we’re going to actually beat these standards," Weaver said. "Once you’re in an EV, you’re never going back."
British Columbians want to do their part to reduce emissions and that 40 per cent of household emissions in B.C. come from transportation, Weaver said.
Earlier this fall, a National Observer column noted that people who want to buy electric cars can find it extremely difficult to find one for sale in B.C. A mandate should help ensure more of those vehicles will be available for purchasers.
"If we want British Columbians to be part of the solution for reducing air pollution, we need to make clean energy vehicles more affordable, available and convenient," Horgan said.
Dan Woynillowicz, policy director for Clean Energy Canada, said the new mandate will address the supply issue, because it will require vehicle manufacturers to ensure that certain percentages of their vehicles sold in B.C. are clean energy vehicles. If not, they will have to pay a fine or buy credits from another vehicle manufacturer. The exact details will be worked out in regulation.
That will also ensure that all different types of clean energy cars are available, including different models, Woynillowicz said.
The policy bodes well for the rest of B.C.'s climate plan, he said.
"This puts B.C. amongst the leaders and if that level of ambition — to be at the forefront of policy and results — holds true to other sectors and with the overall climate plan, that would be a great thing," Woynillowicz "It would bode well of our ability to beat the 2030 target. It's not an easy target to hit."
Horgan’s new pledge includes a goal of expanding to 151 the number of direct-current fast-charger sites in the province and immediately adding another $20 million to the purchase incentive program. The incentive program will be reviewed, with an eye to expanding it over time, the government said in its news release.
Under the incentive program, buyers can get rebates of up to $5,000 for battery or plug-in hybrid cars and up to $6,000 for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
B.C. already has a network of charging stations and more than 12,000 clean energy vehicles registered, which the government says is one of the highest adoption rates in the country.
Legislation requiring the change will be introduced next spring. Other countries are already further ahead – China is aiming for 10 per cent of new vehicle sales to be zero-emission vehicles by next year and India, Israel, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany have vowed to stop selling gasoline and diesel cars by 2030, while France, the UK and Scotland have promised to do the same a few years later. In Canada, Quebec is the only other province with a clean energy vehicle mandate.
Tracy Sherlock writes about B.C. politics for National Observer. Send your tips and ideas to [email protected]
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